Baseball is embedded in American culture.
It is America’s pastime, loved by many around the world.
Its reach extends through the Americas, down into the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Venezuela; and across the Pacific to Japan, South Korea and more.
Personally, there is nothing in this world that I love more than baseball. I’ve built my life around it; it is the foundation of everything that I am.
Without it, I have no identity.
I have played baseball since I was three years old.
Even back then, going to the field to play t-ball was my favorite part of the day. Some things never change, and I still have this attitude today.
As a college baseball player, I struggle through class everyday just waiting until I can get out to the field and practice, especially during these times of not knowing what the future holds.
I developed this love from my dad.
He played professional baseball up to the AA level for the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Montreal Expos. Much like me, he grew up playing it, and loves it to death; the game is still a major part of his life, almost 20 years after he stepped off the field for the last time.
He loves the game so much that, even though all of his kids are either moved away, or not playing baseball anymore, he still volunteers his time coaching Little League and trying to spread his love to the next generation.
Growing up in Las Vegas, I didn’t have a Major League Baseball team to go watch in person, and although I have watched many AAA games with The Las Vegas 51s, a former affiliate of the New York Mets, my only way to take in an MLB game was through the broadcasts.
The closest MLB team to my house would be the Arizona Diamondbacks, and although Chase Field is beautiful, I have only been to a handful of MLB games.
My first memory of watching baseball was when I was eight. and I watched Hall of Famer, Ken Griffey, Jr., launch his 600th career home run out of Dolphin Stadium to put the Reds up 2-0 over the Marlins in the first inning.
These experiences are things that people remember and help build a lasting love for the game, and I am scared that, for this generation of younger people, that opportunity is not going to come so easily.
Baseball has failed this generation of youth by keeping its distance.
Younger people are opting to watch the NBA or the NFL and that is due largely to the fact that the MLB does not market itself very well to a younger audience.
Statistics from Fangraphs show that the MLB viewership numbers in the World Series have been on a steep decline since the early 2000s and went down 14% from 2000 to 2018.
Major League Baseball is failing fans in several ways.
One is through blackout restrictions, which help give locals more of an incentive to go to their home teams games.
They do not broadcast, or they “blackout” their broadcasts to areas around the home team’s park to make people go to the park to watch the game instead of opting to watch it on TV.
For example, in Goshen, it is impossible to watch home broadcasts for the Cubs, Tigers or White Sox.
This is crazy because going to Wrigley to see a Cubs game would be a two and a half hour drive to get there. It is quite a stretch to think that a young person would be able to regularly make that trip to Wrigley or Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, let alone to Detroit, three hours away, to see the Tigers.
These blackout restrictions hurt more in areas that do not have a local team.
Let’s consider my hometown: Boulder City, Nevada.
I can’t watch any home games from the Oakland Athletics, Arizona Diamondbacks, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers.
That is 20% of the MLB that I am not allowed to watch.
The sad truth is that there are no ways around these restrictions.
Even if you buy the MLB cable package, which is advertised at any game, any time, the blackouts are not included in those games.
MLB.tv, which is the MLB’s all-access streaming service, is even subject to these restrictions.
Even when the games are televised, as they will be for the World Series, which opens this week, Major League Baseball turns away fans for another reason.
They make it incredibly difficult to watch important baseball games.
Looking at this upcoming World Series, every game starts after 8 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.
With baseball’s games averaging about three hours, there is no way that kids, with school the next day, will be awake to watch some of the thrilling moments of this World Series, or even see their team win the World Series, with the game most likely ending close to 11:30 p.m.
I was fortunate to grow up on the West Coast which meant that due to being in the Pacific time zone, I was three hours behind, so I could stay up for the World Series, and I remember every single one past 2008.
These are some of the fondest memories I have, from watching the epic Cardinals comeback in 2011 to the Cubs breaking the curse in 2016.
These are all memories that kids in the Eastern time zone might be robbed as games go past 11 p.m.